2 min

Acknowledging the forbidden

Where exactly should a doctor's boundary be set?

The Ontario College Of Physicians And Surgeons has been trashed repeatedly for failing to protect the public from fuck-up doctors.

It’s big news – and big worry – all around. The Toronto Star has been screaming hysterical about bad doctors. The May 5 edition of the paper says that the majority of the college’s cases since 1994 (77 out of 141) have involved sexual misconduct. That was the year the college vowed zero tolerance for sexual contact – of any kind! – between doctors and patients. Zero tolerance means that anything that might be inappropriate – whatever that is – is verboten, regardless of the degree of evil.

Since then, 25 docs have lost their licences, according to the Star.

At least we can thank the squishy liberals who work at the watchdog agency for a possible double standard when it comes to homo physicians who play with their patients.

I don’t think her name is important. But a Kingston doctor was recently charged by the college with two counts of acts “of professional misconduct for engaging in disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional conduct.”

The first charge involves the improper storage of patient files.

The second is astonishing. The good doctor had sex with one of her psychotherapy patients. No – not her patient, despite the continued lie in the college’s documentation. Actually, her former patient.

They waited a month after ending the doctor-patient relationship.

The doctor admits the sexual relationship. In fact, the relationship with “Ms A,” as she’s referred to, continues. The pair has been together for five years.

The patient – no, ex patient – did not complain to the college.

And the doctor “attempted in advance to get help in deciding the appropriateness of her actions by consulting the College Of Physicians And Surgeons Of Ontario. She may have been naive and misguided in her interpretation of the advice she received; nonetheless she clearly wrestled with her decision.”

There’s more. The doctor “has not been furtive or clandestine in her relationship with Ms A. Early on in the relationship, she confided in three separate counsellors who subsequently reported the situation to the college. The committee could find no evidence that her behaviour towards Ms A was either predatory or exploitive in nature.”

At least the college did not order two grown women to stop being in love.

Instead, the long list of penalties include a reprimand, a suspension. The doctor must take a course on “boundaries,” undergo psychotherapy, and not offer long-term intensive psychotherapy ever again.

She will eventually be able to practice again, if she follows these rules (and a few others).

The watchdogs on the college’s disciplinary committee see the shades of grey, which is more than many organizations which obsess about “zero tolerance” manage. They did not ban her from her livelihood forever.

But they haven’t quite worked it all the way through.

Here’s the thing: you cannot blame others for your inability to take charge of your life.

The college is feeding the need for individuals – for patients – to see themselves as victims, to refuse to accept responsibility for themselves.

Let’s instead teach everyone that they are in charge of their lives. We can say no. And we must learn to say no to be autonomous, fully realized human beings.

The other side to this is the scary realization that sometimes, we don’t want to admit what we really want. And yet we also must take responsibility for saying yes.

And we can’t allow the College Of Physicians And Surgeons to take that away.

Eleanor Brown is Managing Editor for Xtra.